May/June Roadmap

If it’s true, then big question is why people call FL one of the most ethical f2p games. I mean, 40%+ of money made by preying on people’s weakness?! Just for reference there are very popular MOBA games with 100+ millions players where you charged only for cosmetics, no pay2win, all new content free. And nobody praises them as especially ethical.

Well, I don’t believe that @billycosmos has cited that 40% figure. It might be true, but it also might be misremembered, so I think that for the moment we should take it with a grain of salt.

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Completely reasonable. I believe it was mentioned in these forums, referring to a statement from FL made elsewhere, but I’m slightly too lazy to look for it.
(Yet look at all the stuff I’m not too lazy for…)

If it’s true, then big question is why people call FL one of the most ethical f2p games.

As for ethics @waterpls, (note that you can now skip to the end where I advise you to watch an episode of South Park instead of reading), keep in mind that the freemium business model tends to rely heavily on slot-machine style dopamine triggers and other shady casino tactics to keep vulnerable players hooked and paying for nothing. Author K.W. Jeeter foresaw this in a novel called “Noir” and called it a “turd on a wire”. A good book, though far darker than the cheery title might suggest.

FB, on the other hand, presents as rewards only a block of text and possibly a tiny picture or three. Still potentially addictive but as it is a, shall we say, more cerebral than visceral reward which also engages the bits of your brain involved in saying, “don’t just sit there pushing a pleasure button”, the potential risks and extent of their damage should be kept fairly well in check.

Now, to really get a sense for my argument here, the best approach would probably be to watch the South Park episode “Freemium isn’t free”, (Freemium Isn't Free | South Park Archives | Fandom), and to compare the satirized behaviors to what you get with FL.

(If you were hoping for a link to the episode when you scrolled past all of my beautiful words - Sorry, no can do. Maybe I hid it in the text you skipped? Tucked away betwixt the lines? You’ll have to find out for yourself!)

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I am familiar with game design principles and monetization tricks behind f2p model. I am also familiar with psychological / cognitive basis it stands on. I believe I watched at some point episode of South Park you so fond of.
My point stands. How could anybody call this ethical? If numbers you presented are true (for which you provided no proof so far)

I don’t know if I would say I was particularly fond of that episode, just that it is both relevant to the topic at hand and not an unhappy viewing experience.
Before you ask - yes, I can tell that you are beyond desperate to know which episodes I am so fond of, and as an act befitting my deep affection for all, I will tell you that an episode of which I am particularly fond is S11E05 - “Fantastic Easter Special”. Even now I am unable to fully quench my response to “the hare club for men”.

With that key bit of business out of the way, I’d like to ask why the ethicality of FB’s business model should rest at all on what portion of their revenue comes from people paying for action/opportunity refreshes? I myself have bought refreshes on no less than three occasions, each in response to an impending deadline. In fact, I think two were for the same deadline - the Paramount Presence overhaul. The third was probably something personal, thus hardly worth remembering.

Now, if you’re saying that accepting any payment for refreshes would be unethical, I do think you’ll find yourself walking towards a bull intent on goring you with one (and only one) of its horns. The word for which has escaped me, but that’s what I get for leaving both my dictionary and window open.
Anyhow, back to these horns. The first is the rather undesirable conclusion that, as anything enjoyable is potentially addictive, the argument that profiting from the supply of potentially addictive (a.k.a., fun) things is unethical leads necessarily to the conclusion that providing any enjoyment is wrong.
Thus, everyone must be just shy of contentment at all times lest they become, at any point, happy as they might place themselves at risk by trying to remain happy.

The other horn available for one to impale themself upon may be even worse. That is the horn called, “Oh, maybe the ethicality of making a business out of providing people with fun even though some may overindulge to the point of self-harm isn’t so clear cut.” That’s right - concession. Yuck!
I advise arguing the first, as arguing the second means no more arguing AND DAMNIT I LIKE ARGUING!!!

I need it! I’m frikking itching for a good argument. Why won’t you argue more?
Argue with me, I need it! Argue! COME ON!!! Just hurry up and refute me. Why are you still waiting??? REEEEFFFFUUUUTTTTEE!!!

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The mechanics and rewards of FL do not strike me as manipulaive or addiction inducing. Is there some hidden menace I’m overlooking? Also the game doesn’t seem to me to be pay2win: there is extremely little player vs player action, and what little there is doesn’t really require monetary investment for success … and you can access a vast amount of content for free.

While it would be great if FL offered almost everything for free, I find it hard to argue that charging people for certain stories/lore, extra actions, extra cards, and so on is an unethical business model.

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CITATIONS:
Okay, maybe it was nine years ago and I was 5-10 percentage points off.
Why is Fallen London still free-to-play? | Failbetter Games

And there’s this more recent bit, with a different sort of number and news that leaves me thinking that we aren’t refreshing enough - State of the Studio 2024 | Failbetter Games

Then I look at one of those corporate profile sites - Failbetter Games: Revenue, Competitors, Alternatives (growjo.com) - and see something shocking like:

  • Failbetter Games’s estimated annual revenue is currently $1.3M per year.
  • Failbetter Games’s estimated revenue per employee is $87,000
    (I really hope my posting that doesn’t cause any tension among the employees)

[edit - well now it’s in spoiler tags, so no worries about (referring back to page for random name…) Leslyann quitting in a fit of indignant fury and punching (referring…) Hannah in the face. Clearly a joke and something I think we all know Leslyann would never actually do to Hannah, now that the business with the office fridge has been resolved. I do understand that there is some tension over a stuffed bat and under whose what it was kept, but I know they are both far too dignified and ladylike to allow that to go any further. That air of nobility is not at all surprising given that they are both married to Earls. Earl Flynn, gardener and part-time pool hustler (or whatever you call it over there), and Earl White, Lord of a poorly-spelled island.]

Damn. If anything, those numbers look too ethical! To the point where they may need to bring in an Evilness consultant. I hear that’s McKinsey & Co’s core competency, so you (FB) might want to talk to them about it.

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In my opinion selling content is fine (ESes, Fate-locked stories, SSea, SSkies, Mask…). Selling competitive advantage is dubious (even if FL is not a competive game by design, people will compete and brag anyway), but I think FBG keeps it limited. What I find evil is building artificial barriers only to make profit on people’s weaknesses. And in FL we see two major cases of this, selling actions outright and selling outfit slots.
Degree of evil depends on revenue sources. If for example they make 80% money by selling content, I personally would call it ethical. If they are making almost 50% of money by twisting victim’s soul, I have no sympathy.

They could, you know, make better games. Not butcher Mask release like they did, for example. SSkies also were very flawed, they knew it from beta, but for example fixes for move speed came only 1 year after initial game release (with release on consoles). One of the best writing in the game industry, sure. But game design and programming… a lot of room to improve (and they are getting better, just very, very slowly).

Interesting! I hadn’t thought about outfit slots, and now that I have I don’t think I’m bothered by the notion. Those are a convenience that provide no in-game benefit, they just save you some actual time. And they weren’t even a thing for a while…

Hey, @theentireforumordangworldforallicare - Anyone know offhand when outfit slots were first added? It was definitely after Sunless Skies’ release (when I started playing), but that’s about all I have. Back when it was just the four and you had to decide if you were smarter in the morning or evening.
And when did they add the rest and ability to buy more?
(How the hell long have I been playing this?)

They could, you know, make better games. Not butcher Mask release like they did, for example.

  1. Thank you for presenting a proposition against which I can sharpen my rhetorical claws.
  2. No, that sounds silly. We (by which I mean everyone else, I’m poor) should just buy a dozen extra actions every day. Otherwise the Earl and Lady White will never be able to afford to correct the spelling on all the island’s signs. Nobody likes seeing a ‘g’ sitting in the middle of a word that doesn’t need one.

Also, I didn’t play Mask. I don’t care for the genre, so as a sober, rational and honest man I cannot and must not weigh in.
Fortunately, I am a dishonest and slightly intoxicated madman, so I condemn your slander and counter by pointing out that they are a really small team engaged in something deceptively difficult, especially considering just how severe their (my?) drinking, collectively, has become.

Now, just because your criticism is generally “fair” and reasonably “polite” doesn’t mean that… that… Oh my word! Did you see what @ladysaphobyron just did?

[quickly ducks out]

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Yeah, I’m going to come out strongly in favor of FBG’s fallen london business model.

There’s plenty of actual unethical F2P games out there. Games with lootbox mechanics that make their money off gambling addicts, pay-to-win games where you have to spend money to keep up with your opponents or else you get crushed, games that promise you a free story but hide the conclusion behind a paywall.

FL does NONE of this. Gambling mechanics are rare and none are explicitly pay-Fate-to-spin, there’s no “limited time only, pay now!” (even fate-locked items from festivals are guaranteed to come back around, there’s no “pay now or miss your chance!”), there’s no PVP so there’s no “pay money or else your neighbor kills your base with his P2W army”. Heck, there’s even a reasonable separation between free and paid stories, you rarely run into the case where "we hooked you with the start of the story, but the conclusion is paid!.

Paying for action refreshes is “if you liked this game, you can pay money to play a bit more of it”. That’s totally fine. Exceptional Friendship is “if you liked this game, for $7/month you can play it twice as much, plus have an extra story”. Also fine. They also sell vanity stuff - stuff that has no impact but that people just like to have (endless numbers of companions that are cute but not Best-in-slot, extra outfit slots, stuff like that). Also fine! Like Valve selling hats or whatever.

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This is one thing I really appreciate with FL. The only examples I can think of that occur are Secrets Framed In Gold (and the “hook” for that one is just “you buy a painting”) and maybe the Aunt storyline, but that one has a pretty clear resolution for non-paying players.

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As someone who has spent exactly twice on action refreshes, for me it’s a festival thing and for ME reads the same as being a fatelocked item from the same festival. I’m willing to do an action refresh if that’s the difference between reaching an item I wanted or not. (For instance, one of the two times was during Fruits of the Zee last year, about a month or so after I came back to the game, after some years away. I wanted a zeefaring vessel from the festival, so it was worth it to me, especially as I didn’t particularly want any other fatelocked items from the festival that year.)

I can’t imagine doing it regularly though.

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And of course, action free action refreshes are available: An Invitation to Linger, Darkdrop Coffee, and Magnificent Feast.

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Personally, I have never been tempted to use Fate for action refreshes. I’ve always felt comfortable just waiting for them to come back naturally; I reserve Fate for things that cannot be gotten any other way.

(I’ve used Fate for action refreshes a couple times, but that was a unique circumstance. I was reporting live from Winking Isle; some people had sent me Fate gifts, and as I was the only person who could explore the new content, I felt pressure to finish quickly and pass on the card. The point being that this pressure was entirely external to the game itself.)

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I’ve missed a few dozen messages in this thread, but reading the most recent I understand we , as a community, took this particular discussion in a wholly different direction?

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Yeah, just imagine those poor, dumb, lost, addicted, gormless, suffering souls who would have a fit of impatience during a grind and slam that “20 actions for 10 fate” button. I’m glad I’m not one of them!

/o\

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Okay so, hear me out: The operative words here are that relative to other F2P games Fallen London is, indeed, quite ethical in the sense that you:

  1. Can access most of the content without paying like… I believe $500+ total in DLC to access the entire game’s story (Destiny 2). And that was 4 months ago. I haven’t even checked how much The Final Shape costs.

  2. As much as I’ve complained about the grinds they are, by and large, NOT luck based and again NOT dependent on paying vast amounts of money for uncertain return (any game with lootboxes). You know what you’re getting with actions: More chances to click textboxes in the text-based narrative driven game. You do NOT know what you’re getting with lootboxes, and that’s why they’re gambling and not “surprise mechanics”

  3. The game, and I must stress this part, does not deceive you into a relationship with a character only to reveal that character is not interested in a relationship with you (Fate/Grand Order. Specifically, Summer Suzuka Gozen. And if that combination of words makes absolutely no sense to you, ignorance is bliss. Please trust me on this. The FL devil “romances” cost absolutely nothing but actions, and essentially function as a “devil psychology tutorial” for dealing with other Devil characters going forward. The example I am citing is specifically a character marketed in advertising as having a romantic interest in you, and when fully romanced via tedious resource grinding mechanism is revealed to not be. There are unethical gaming marketing prices. There are straight up unethical companies, like Blizzard Entertainment. And then there is a game that catfishes the player using a fictional character because one particular writer has an incomprehensible complex about the character he wrote but still wants her to sell in a gacha.

I know the examples above sound unhinged, but what I’m trying to say is: There are legitimate criticisms to be had about FL. And frankly what I heard about Mask of the Rose has turned me off actually giving it a shock. But as others have said, the primary selling point of FL has always been the writing quality, and that at least is largely free and limited only by your patience to engage with the content. Is it the best programmed game? No, but while I can’t speak for others I mostly come to read something weird every month and something really weird every couple of months. The grinding is just something to kill time. But the actual content in the game isn’t gated by more money than a good restaurant meal should cost.

And by all the Gods of the Zee, THERE IS SO MUCH WORSE OUT THERE ON THE F2P MARKET

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Captain BS (hehe, that sounds funny but I do not mean it that way), Could you please explain how Blizzard is unethical. I played Diablo and Diablo II for ~10 years and played Starcraft II a LOT also. I paid the ~$60 for each game and played them for many years with no further expenditures needed and I never felt they were the slightest bit unethical. I do not even recall the ability to spend more money on these games than the original price to purchase the game. What am I missing that makes Blizzard unethical?

When I think about unethical business practices, I come up with the following:

  1. Selling products/services that are known to be defective and/or to not meet safety and environmental standards.
  2. Making false or misleading claims about what is sold.
  3. Causing severe harm, such as environmental damage or addiction (differentiating between things that are inherently addictive such as nicotine vs. things that people can developed an addiction to).
  4. Charging inordinate amounts for necessities or otherwise exploiting vulnerable people.
  5. Concealing harm caused by use or production of what’s sold.
  6. Mistreating of employees.
  7. Intentionally or negligently breaking laws.
  8. Practicing discrimination.

So far as I know, FBG doesn’t do any of these.

Of course, not being unethical does not equate to being ethical. Although FBG does get points for creating a game welcoming and representing a wide range of races, genders, etc.

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Yes, that’s great! And pretty important to me, personally, so thank you FBG.

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